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Successful effort by NPS Foundation

November 19, 2018

A public school district faces some challenges in engaging in private fund-raising that other entities might not.

The fact that a school district receives property tax revenue might be viewed by many as an existing tangible sign of support. The presence of state aid — also provided by taxpayers — for some school districts could be another factor.

And yet, as those associated with the Norfolk Public Schools are well aware, state aid coming to Norfolk keeps decreasing. And efforts to lower the property tax levy are a constant, too.

All that creates a need — and an opportunity — for the Norfolk Public Schools Foundation to help generate some additional funding to support important education-based programs on a local level. Which is exactly what’s being done.

Last month’s annual Traditions breakfast detailed what’s been taking place, including providing:

— $61,150 in scholarships for the class of 2018.

— $25,000 in classroom grants and special projects.

— $10,000 in dual credit.

— $23,436 in donor funded projects.

“We never want funding to get in the way of great teaching,” said Sarah Dittmer, the foundation’s executive director. “Norfolk Public Schools teachers have great ideas. The impact of grants is in the thousands every year.”

Adding to the need for private fundraising is the fact that the Norfolk district is growing. Enrollment is up close to 450 students since 2010. That’s a lot of additional students to educate, yet over the same time frame, state aid has decreased $2.5 million.

There are numerous positives to report about what’s taking place within the Norfolk Public School system — including graduation rates, test scores and new safety-related efforts along with the implementation of standards-based grading.

But one of those positives is the continued success of the Norfolk Public Schools Foundation in sharing information about those accomplishments, as well as the benefits that can be gained with additional support for the foundation.

As Dr. Jami Jo Thompson, superintendent of schools, said at the foundation breakfast, “These are all great accomplishments, but they don’t tell the whole story, and they’re not what the staff is most proud of. The real story is behind the scenes … I (am) impressed by (teachers’) level of commitment to their students. It’s evident they care deeply and work extremely hard to make them successful.”

Well said, and most definitely true.

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